12 January 2008

ugh, snowriding

Ugh. That says it all.

Two days off the bike. Ruined my volume goal for the week - because I have enough discipline to not clump together two workouts into one day (I don't want to be doing a 6+ hour ride right now for fear of bonking or otherwise destroying myself). I took a picture of myself on the second day:Not really. But close. I did get a haircut, though.

So afterwords I decided to say screw it and go ride despite the still rather snowpacked road conditions. I knew that the arterials were at least somewhat cleared despite the city's inability to plow in the critical hours after a snowstorm. I also know that the only two places around here that are actually really good at clearing their roads after snowstorms are the Air Force Academy and the Garden of the Gods. Since I knew that I could realistically get to the Garden of the Gods, I went there to ride.

The Garden of the Gods is a storied and beautiful city park here, and the paved roads that circulate through it offer the widest bike path that I've ever seen and speed limits of 20mph throughout the park (meaning that on the descents and even the flats bikes speed past cars which is pretty cool). Theoretically, it should be a wonderland of road cycling. Indeed, most roadie weekend-warriors and newbies make it a staple of their riding. But I hate it nearly always. It's always freaking filled with tourists who park in the bike lane on blind switchback descents, and is generally replete with dumb-as-dandelion Texans at all times of the year. If you're looking for a low-speed collision with an SUV or oblivious human-being, then eschew midtown-Manhattan and go to the Garden of the Gods. Furthermore, there's one descending switchback in the park where I have actually crashed multiple times on the road bike. I freaking HATE that corner because even when I go through it at like 10mph, I still seem to have a knack for wiping out on either gravel, the slick reflective lines, water, ice, or some tourist standing in the middle of the road taking pictures. The guardrail there is also totally beat up (and if I remember correctly a few years ago it was totally destroyed), so it actually must be a lot more dangerous for everybody than it looks. Finally, back in high school cross-country we used to have 7am workouts there every Tuesday morning in the summer, and generally throughout the rest of the year as well. I always got my ass kicked and handed to me on a platter by absolutely everybody on the team along with various unrelated recreational runners, equestrians, and leisurely hikers, and I've probably had over a dozen sprained ankles there as well.

The main problem, for me mentally at least, with the Garden of the Gods (either running or on the bike) is that it really is wicked hilly with numerous steep climbs - but all of them look flat as a pancake. The entire park is a mental illusion. It's a general problem in the foothills here in that since the whole terrain is really slanted, it's difficult to judge the steepness and difficulty of climbs. Easy ones look ridiculously hard, and ridiculously hard ones look flat. So, I always end up destroying myself WAY to early in all of my Garden of the Gods workouts unless I prepare for it mentally.

The loop I did was, apparently, just over 5 miles and (from the veloroutes measurements) had just over 800ft of climbing per lap. I did six laps on the last workout, which was a record for me and accounts for a fairly good amount of climbing in a short period of time. It's really not physically hard if you actually do the climbs in the effort zones that one should be in, especially with the recoveries on the numerous descents, but each lap does have a climb (High Drive) that is, I think, about as steep as Jenckes Street in Providence except a bit longer. It was mostly snow free except for some obvious black ice on a few descents and one wicked slush/white ice spot on a climb...no crashes, though!

Today, I headed out the same way expecting to do more Garden of the Gods, except I found myself inexplicably lulled to climb 26th Street/Gold Camp Road...which I did. It was passable going up, but apparently I forgot that I had to descend. Most of Upper Gold Camp Road was still snow-packed/slush-packed with some ice spots, so I think I descended it slower than I climbed it. No crashes again, though (despite some really close calls).

Then, I got a phone call from an old high school friend that Cigar Friday - an old high school tradition - was being revived. Yes, going back to when I was like 16 years old I used to smoke a cigar on many Fridays with a group of friends, even during cross-country and track seasons (my coaches knew). So, that entailed high-tailing it back to downtown and the park next to my old high school. I didn't smoke a cigar this time, though...which was somewhat of a shame I think (ah, the freaking sacrifices one must make for dear old Brown and the glory of its cycling team).
Luckily, though, it did mean that I only did a ride about half as long as I planned - so theoretically it did have some negative impact upon my physical fitness level!

This weeks training goals have been obliterated by weather and tobacco-traditions. I don't care, though. Maybe 'ugh' isn't the best modifier, after all.

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